Paul Nicholls insists he will not give up his trainers’ title without a fight ahead of what promises to be a pivotal Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr this weekend.

After claiming his second victory in the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday with I Am Maximus, Willie Mullins is now odds-on with bookmakers to become the first Irish-based trainer to claim the British championship since Vincent O’Brien did so in successive years in the 1950s.

The Closutton maestro currently leads the way by just under £53,000 from Dan Skelton, with Nicholls a further £75,000 behind in third.

But with plenty of prize-money up for grabs before the season comes to an end at Sandown on the 27th of April, Nicholls has not lost hope of being crowned champion for a 15th time, which would see him equal the record set by his former long-time rival Martin Pipe.

“We’re looking forward to it, as you can imagine we’ll be doing our best and will never give up,” the Ditcheat handler told Betfair.


“We’ve been there before, eight years ago going into the last two weeks of the season I think we were £180,000 behind Willie and we were 8/1 against to win.

“We had a great time, Sandown was a brilliant day for us and we won the Scottish National with Vicente, so we need some luck like that again and need to win some big races.”

Nicholls has three remaining contenders for Saturday’s £200,000 Coral Scottish Grand National following the confirmation stage, with top-weight Stay Away Fay joined by Broken Halo and Flash Collonges.

All to play for

Whatever happens north of the border, though, the trainer feels it will still be all to play for ahead of Sandown’s jumps season finale on Saturday week.

He added: “If you’re still in touch going into Sandown there’s some great prize-money there and from my point of view I’d love to see it dry up. It’s looking a much better weather forecast from Tuesday and we’d love to see it dry up everywhere, Ayr included.

“We won’t give up, Dan’s got plenty to run as well and is thinking the same as me. I said to Dan on Saturday ‘we’re going to have to come up with a plan here’ and he said ‘the only plan we can have is hope there’s a ferry strike next week’, which is about right!

“We’ll keep trying, I think Dan is more mortified than I am as he thought he had a great chance and of course Saturday completely put the dampeners on it, but he won’t give up and I won’t give up.”